What to Make of the High-Tech Layoffs

To my disconcerted students:

Sadly, the massive layoffs in Silicon Valley and around the world that we are currently observing are a low-frequency yet business-as-usual event. Let me tease apart the different components and draw some conclusions for your career.

First of all, you may have observed how they are all happening at once. This is no coincidence: Layoffs are bad press and so companies will try to make it go over as smoothly as possible. Once one company got going, others will hurry up and take the opportunity to jump in.

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Activities vs. Phases

Clarity in writing is essential for successful scientific communication. A pet peeve of mine is the confusion between activity and phase, when discussing about any process, but specifically research processes based on design science.

An activity is something that you do. You applied a method. You searched the web. You went for a walk. A phase is a period of time; often you perform activities within such a period of time. If there is one phase, there probably are other phases, those that came before and/or those that came after. Having phases implies a sequencing of these phases and activities bound to them.

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To Review or Not to Review

I previously reported about a bogus review for a journal submission of ours. The submission had been rejected partly or fully based on a review that obviously had nothing to do with our paper but must have been reused from before. I had complained to the editor, but I had not got any answers for my questions.

The journal, owned by one of the prestigious non-profits in my domain, seems to be on autopilot. Today I received an invitation to review a submission for this journal.

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An Illustration of How Chat AIs Might Disrupt Teaching

With the recent general availability of chat AIs like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, teachers have to ask themselves how to deal with student homework potentially created using these tools. In the following ten minute video I provide a short illustration from my own teaching how students might use such chat AIs in creating homework, and I discuss how a teacher might react to it.

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A Common Single-Person Research Design That Does Not Work (Well)

I’ve had some success in grant proposals with research designs for human-centered software engineering that follow the following (common) pattern. It is a three-step of

  1. Structured literature review (to create an initial theory),
  2. Action research (to build out the quickly evolving theory), and
  3. Case study research (to conclude by evaluating the theory)
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Have You Seen This Review?

We recently submitted a structured literature review to a well-ranked journal, and got a review back complaining about how badly our controlled experiment had been carried out. We inquired with the editor about this, but got no answer back. The review (by reviewer 2, no less) is so generic, I suspect it has been used many times before. I’d be curious to hear from you if you received this (same) review in the past.

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